Learning Tools

Myth/Fact Sheets

Documents Proving The Existence of the Gas Vans Are Forged

 

Holocaust deniers say:

Documents that explicitly discuss the construction and use of gas vans are "not credible" and of "dubious" origin.

Ingrid Weckert, a German Holocaust denier, states that a detailed letter about the existence and use of the gas vans in the East is a forgery created by the Allies for the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals in 1945/46.1

Documentation about the gas vans

A key piece of evidence about the existence and use of the gas vans is a letter from August Becker to Walther Rauff, the official who managed the gas vans program in Berlin, dated May 16, 1942. Rauff had sent Becker to the East to investigate problems relating to the gas vans and report back to him. In an attempt to discredit the letter Weckert cites an affidavit Rauff gave to his American captors in 1945. In it he claimed that:
  • He was the head of the department that constructed the gas vans from February 1940 to March 1940 and then again from May 1942 to June 1942.
  • During this period from February 1940 to February 1940 (when the gas vans were built and used), Rauff said he was assigned to other tasks so he had no knowledge of the building or use of gas vans.
Weckert claims that Becker’s letter is a forgery because Rauff was not the head of the gas van program.
She also fails to report Becker’s direct references to the execution of people in the gas vans: " place of execution ," " persons to be executed ," " the application of gas " and " distorted faces and excretions ." It is not hard to understand why Rauff should want to absent himself from direct responsibility for the gas vans while in the hands of the Americans.
However in 1972, Rauff gave another affidavit in the German embassy in Santiago, Chile2 on behalf of one of his colleagues then on trial in Germany. Chile had refused to extradite Rauff to Germany many times before and he did not fear that possibility in 1972. The affidavit was proofed and signed by him.
In his second statement, Rauff said:
  • "Regarding the annihilation of Jews in Russia I know that gas vans were used for this purpose . . . I saw two of these vans standing in the yard, which Pradel [Rauff’s subordinate] showed me . . . the gas vans were used for the execution of sentences and the killing of Jews."
  • Rauff also admitted that he had headed the department in the time period in which the gas vans were designed, built and used and recalled that he had "told Becker to send me a corresponding report" about their use in the East.
Weckert does not mention Rauff’s second affidavit at all.
The entire text of Rauff’s deposition is available at http://www2.ca.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/r/rauff.walter/Rauff-deposition-translation.
Weckert also questions the authenticity of the 1942 Willy Just letter to Walter Rauff by challenging its contents. She claims that it does not "prove" that the " load " or " merchandise " was people.3 However:
  • What load of material-other than living human beings-" pushes hard against the doors " of the van to be found piled up against them later?
  • What " pieces " of goods required the installation of a drain to siphon off "thin liquids" that were produced during the operation and left the van so dirty that it needed to be cleaned of "thicker dirt" after each use?
  • What " merchandise " required a light that needed to be protected with a steel grid?
A final piece of evidence reinforces the authenticity of the letters. Otto Ohlendorf, the head of Einsatzgruppe D in the East, testified at the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals in 1945/46. Ohlendorf stated that:
  • He had received the gas vans in the spring of 1942 for use in the " killing of women and children " and that Becker had visited his unit to supervise their use.
  • He noted that although the gas vans could not be distinguished from any other truck on the outside they were "constructed [so] that when the motor ran, the gas was conducted into the van causing death of the occupants in 10 to 15 minutes."
Ohlendorf’s testimony is available at http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-03/tgmwc-03-26-04.html, Part 4 of 15.

Conclusion

The letters about the gas vans are not "uncertain" or "dubious" and they are not forged. The Holocaust deniers fail to tell their readers the whole story. The testimonies of the men who designed, built and used the gas vans corroborate the information in them.

Notes

1. Ingrid Weckert, "The Gas Vans: A Critical Assessment of the Evidence," pp. 14/34 and Section 3.1 "Nuremberg Document PS-501" at http://www.vho.org/GB/Books/dth/fndwagon.html.
2. Rauff was captured by the Americans in Italy. He escaped their custody and fled to Damascus, Syria. From there he moved on to Ecuador and finally settled in Chile, where he worked as the manager of a king crab cannery until his death in 1984. Weckert characterizes this chain of events as Rauff’s "emigrating" to Chile. (Weckert, "Gas Vans," p. 16/34.)
3. Weckert, "Gas Vans," p. 22/34.
Popups by overLIB